13 years later, PA continues to accuse Israel of murdering Arafat
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13 years later, PA continues to accuse Israel of murdering Arafat

As Palestinians mark death of former leader, leaders and official media peddle largely debunked theory that he was poisoned

Palestinians hold pictures of late leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza City on November 9, 2017, during a festival to commemorate the 13th anniversary of his death. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
Palestinians hold pictures of late leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza City on November 9, 2017, during a festival to commemorate the 13th anniversary of his death. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

The Palestinian Authority continues to blame Israel for the death of Yasser Arafat, with officials and PA media accusing the Jewish state of poisoning the former Palestinian leader, a watchdog group has said.

As Palestinians marked 13 years since Arafat’s death this month, mouthpieces of the PA repeated the claim that he did not die a natural death.

“All the signs show that Israel is the one that assassinated and murdered President Yasser Arafat in some way, when it reached him and poisoned him,” said one morning show host on the official PA TV channel on November 11,  according to the Israeli group Palestinian Media Watch.

Meanwhile a columnist on the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida said Israel “forced him to vacate the scene and poisoned him. The ones who were responsible for his treatment in France did not find the necessary antidote for his recovery from the premeditated murder, which was committed by the leaders of the Israeli ethnic cleansing state.”

The columnist went on to claim the alleged murder was carried out “with a green light from the US.”

Senior Fatah official Nasser al-Qidwa told the Ma’an news agency on November 9 that Israel had “full political and criminal responsibility for the assassination of Martyr Yasser Arafat.” He cited as proof “clear and repeated Israeli statements that demanded the removal of Martyr Yasser Arafat from the Palestinian political arena.”

Similar statements were made in August by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s foreign affairs adviser Nabil Shaath, who told Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiyaa TV he knew without a “millionth of a doubt” that “the Israelis killed him with poison.”

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat blows a farewell kiss to supporters as he leaves for medical treatment in France in 2004. (photo credit: ca.msn screenshot)
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat blows a farewell kiss to supporters as he leaves for medical treatment in France in 2004. (photo credit: ca.msn screenshot)

Arafat died in a military hospital near Paris at the age of 75 in November 2004, a month after suddenly falling ill. The underlying source of the illness has never been clear, leading to persistent conspiracy theories that he had cancer, AIDS or was poisoned.

In 2012 Arafat’s widow Suha filed a case in a French court, saying he was murdered.

The same year, Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah was opened for a few hours allowing three teams of French, Swiss and Russian investigators to collect approximately 60 samples.

The Swiss team said it found that certain samples contained “abnormal levels” of the radioactive element polonium which they said could be “coherent with a hypothesis of poisoning.” However a member of the team also stated that “our study did not permit us to demonstrate categorically the hypothesis of poisoning by polonium.”

French and Russian investigators ruled there was not enough evidence to support poisoning, and that the radioactive material appeared to be of “an environmental nature.”

In 2015 French prosecutors closed the inquiry into Arafat’s death, citing insufficient evidence.

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